Just like in the first round of the NBA Playoffs, the Los Angeles Lakers find themselves in another hole after dropping Game 1 to the Houston Rockets.
While Danny Green and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope believed the team’s extended break would help, it proved to be detrimental as the Lakers appeared flat after the first quarter. The Rockets, meanwhile, executed well on both ends and controlled the game from nearly start to finish.
Unlike Portland, Houston is healthy and has a plethora of shooters who can space Los Angeles out and force them into tough defensive rotations. Also, James Harden is a terror getting to the basket and stepping out to hit 3s, two areas the Lakers will need to be better in if they hope to win.
Some of the Lakers’ ability to cover ground defensively — specifically out on the perimeter — is related to lineups. The Lakers started their usual five, and head coach Frank Vogel downplayed that significance with respect to the bigger picture.
“We’ve got to be better in a lot of things that we do. We definitely could’ve played better and in more rhythm, and there are some things we can do differently as well,” he said. “We’ll look at the tape, we’ll see what approach we’re going to have for Game 2 and we’ll go from there.
“I’m not going to tip my hand about Game 2. Like I said, we’ll go to the tape, we’ll look at a lot of different ways we can go, but it starts with just being better with what we did. We were too careless throwing the ball all over the court, our turnovers and taking quick shots.
“Got to be more patient, and if we do that we’ll get our defense set and be in business. It’s not necessarily about being big or small. It’s what you’re doing on the court.”
LeBron James and Anthony Davis found it difficult to get into the lane with the Rockets intent on clogging the paint, meaning there will be extra pressure on the shooters to knock down shots.
The team defense will also need to be sharper as Houston found little resistance finding the open man along the perimeter.
Vogel praises Rockets role players
Vogel has had plenty of time to scout and prepare for the series against the Rockets, but will need to be more creative heading into Game 2.
Prior to the first game, Vogel could not help but give Houston’s players their due as they all seem tailor-made for head coach Mike D’Antoni’s scheme. “They don’t have a lot of weak links in their rotation,” Vogel said.
“They’ve got a lot of guys that really contribute, a ton of guys that can really shoot. Obviously Gordon’s ability to really explode for a big offensive input is key. Their 3-point shooting and defenders all impact the game on a high level. I wouldn’t target just one.
“I think they have great depth.”
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